Hutton Wilkinson wears Zanzan Rubirosa at Dawn Ridge, Los Angeles.
To celebrate the release of Zanzan Spa Ma Ma we hopped on a plane to L.A. and caught up with Hutton Wilkinson at Dawnridge. Hutton’s name will always be synonymous with that of Tony Duquette. As Duquette’s protégé and business partner for over thirty years they collaborated on a truly breathtaking kaleidoscope of design projects; interiors, sculptures, costumes, film sets, jewellery and some of the best parties Hollywood has ever seen. The Spa Ma Ma party was just one of the legendary parties given by Tony in the late 60s and married his trademark eclectic styling to a contemporary 60s Californian aesthetic – Hollywood High Style meets rich hippie chic. As usual he was the consummate host; charming and elegant in his silks and every inch the incarnation of Golden Hollywood glamour.
Zanzan: Tony Duquette hosted some incredible parties. Can you tell us about a few?
Hutton Wilkinson: “The parties given by Tony and Elizabeth (Beegle) Duquette at the old Tony Duquette studio on Robertson Blvd in Los Angeles were always amazing. He entertained at least once a month with a black tie dinner dance for from 50 to 100 people. Always with an orchestra. Gamboling on the balcony (to get the men who didn’t like to dance off of the dance floor) and always an interesting guest of honour or theme. Always with a divertissement like a Chinese ballet, or a Balaika orchestra or some type of review. Always a diverse guest list. He always believed in having rich people, beautiful people and talented people like artists or movie stars all mixed up in the same group. There was always dinner either seated or buffet depending on how large the group was”
“They also entertained every day at lunch. Usually a table of ten and you never knew who might show up - Claire Booth Luce, Anita Loos, the Princess of Kapurtala, the Maharani of Indore, King Vidor, George Cukor, Liza Minnelli, Marissa Berenson. It was always a surprise! At Tony’s legendary theme parties in the 40s, 50s and 60s it wasn’t rare to see Judy Garland belting a song out or Stravinsky tinkling the ivories. Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Fred Astaire, Aldous Huxley and The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were regulars but the real stars were the fantastical creations of Tony Duquette and his team!”
Did you go to Beatrice Lazard’s Doctor Zhivago party – snowdrifts et al?
“Yes we always attended the parties we designed. I was Tony’s business partner so I was very involved in the design of the evening which was amazing. The most extraordinary extravagance was the creation of a ballroom inside of the ballroom made with French windows which were shattered with dead tree branches and snow drifts coming through them like the snow scene in Doctor Zhivago.”
What about the hippy de-luxe Spa Ma Ma parties?
“Those were given in the 1960s before my time. I met the Duquettes in 1971 when I was 17 years old. I did hear for years and years from those who attended these get-togethers that they were terrific!!!! During my 30 years with the Duquettes I did attend a lot of big parties out at the ranch which I’m sure were equally elaborate as the Spa Ma Mas. Always a mariachi orchestra, always Mexican food, oriental rugs on the ground. Lots of pillows and masses of flowering potted plants brought in for the occasion. Usually a seated lunch for up to 150 people.
What next for Tony Duquette Inc?
“We continue creating one of a kind fine jewelry available through Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and through select Saks Fifth Avenue stores across the nation. We are also doing interior decorating. We like to do one good house a year for clients who really want the special Hollywood De Luxe look that we do best. We continue to license Tony Duquette products. To date we have a collection of furniture available through Baker, decorative fabrics available through Jim Thompson Thai Silks, carpets by Roubini, lighting by Remains Lighting and we are pursuing other opportunities which have been offered to us. My new book “More is More, Tony Duquette” was published by Abrams last October and is already a best seller for that company. “More is more” is a sequel to my other best-selling book “Tony Duquette” which I wrote with Wendy Goodman and which was published by Abrams in 2007”.
PHOTO: SHELBY DUNCAN